Iowa jobless rate falls, but so does participation

The state unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in March

Matthew Patane / The Gazette

Iowa’s unemployment rate is on a downward trend, but so is the size of the state’s labor force.

The state’s jobless rate fell to 3.1 percent in March, down from 3.8 percent the year before, Iowa Workforce Development said Friday.

Iowa’s total nonfarm employment rose by 8,100 positions between March 2016 and March 2017.

Gains in several sectors bolstered Iowa’s nonfarm employment. The financial, professional and business services, and education and health services sector, each saw gains of between 3,000 and 4,500 jobs in the past year.

Manufacturing continued to shed jobs, though, losing 3,600 positions year over year. Iowa’s information, leisure and government sectors also saw declines.

Even though more Iowans were employed in March than 12 months before, the number of people in the state’s labor force — those who are working and considered unemployed — dropped.

The state’s civilian labor force — which includes those who are working and others considered unemployed — declined by 9,300 in the past 12 months.

“Unemployed Iowans continued to leave the labor force in March,” Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said in a statement. “The reduction in Iowa’s total labor force represents a smaller pool of qualified applicants and is making it difficult for businesses to fill positions.”

The unemployment rate nationwide fell to 4.5 percent in March, down from 5 percent a year ago.

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